Padma Purana explains that in one kalpa during Krishna’s Bhauma Vrndavana (earthly) pastimes, the Vraja-gopis went near Dvaraka to dance with their beloved in a secluded forest beside the sea. Krishna secretly left His palace, abandoned His royal insignias, robes, opulent crown and other trimmings of a King, and again adorned Himself in his gopa-vesh, simple dress of a Vrndavana cowherd boy, – with a red turban and peacock feather atop His head, a flowing lightning gold dhoti and diaphanous yellow chaddar, a yellow karnikara flower stuck above one ear, a gunja berry necklace swining from His neck, and of course that indomitable instrument of seduction and family destruction- His murali.
After hours of wonderful dancing and loving expressions, Krishna took the gopis to swim in a nearby lake to relieve their fatigue. All the body powders, unguents, oils and pastes of sandalwood, musk, jasmine, saffron and various colored minerals washed off their transcendental bodies as they splashed each other and played about. These fragrant substances filtered down through the water, and mixed in with the muddy clay at the bottom of the lake. By the touch of these divine substances all the clay became spiritualized and endowed with a sublime fragrance. For the last fifty centuries Visnu and Krishna bhaktas have been using THIS clay known as gopi chand (it is golden color just like Radhika’s splendid limbs), to apply tilaka to their bodies and write the names of Krishna or Radha across their chests or foreheads, which means “I am the property of Radha.”
The gopi-chand we are sending has been broken from a large chunk, soaked in water, and placed in a container to dry into a particular shape. You may again break it and use the odd shaped pieces to apply tilaka, or use the maha chunk.
Sastric References Regarding Benefit of Wearing General Tilaka, and special Dvarka Gopi-chand
First we will give some quotes from one of our notebooks: Tilaka on the body acts to purify the body and indicates that our body is surrendered to Krishna. The particular places on the body where tilaka is applied are sensitive points (energy sensors) on the body which easily absorb the spiritual energy generated by reciting the transcendental names (Sri Visnu, Sri Visnave, Sri Govinda etc.) and mentally placing or installing the Lord in those positions by applying the tilaka symbol. Essentially the applying of tilaka installs the Lord on twelve parts of the body, or creates Krishna’s twelve temples on the body.
Padma Purana Glories of Wearing Tilaka:
1. If one is not wearing tilaka he will not get any result from the performance of chanting, austerities, study, Gayatri, yajna, or any other spiritual activity.
2. Auspicious Darsana — if someone sees the tilaka on a devotee’s face, he will become freed of all sins.
3. Death—if wearing tilaka at time of death, one will go to Vaikuntha.
4. Krishna is pleased and resides with wearer of tilaka.
5. Tilaka on body means the body has become a sanctified temple of the Lord.
6. Tilaka mark, Brahma resides on left, Siva on right, and Visnu (Krishna in center)
Padma Purana Specific Glories of Wearing Gopi-chand tilaka from Dvaraka:
1. Gopi-chand is so pure that a sinful person becomes pure just by its touch.
2. If you perform various Vedic rites (samskaras, yajnas etc.) without proper mantras, you will still get permanent benefits from those acts provided you are wearing gopi-chand tilaka.
**Because we feel somehow close to you, as you do toward us, we wish to share with you the bhava we feel in our heart while applying tilaka from gopi-chand. Acts in Krishna consciousness that are backed with the proper bhavas will quickly bring the result of suddha-bhakti and prema. Mechanical movements, though beneficial, do not attach our heart to Krishna, nor attach Krishna’s heart to ours.
Glories to Gopi chand Tilaka
The upward U of tilaka placed on the forehead represents the lotus foot of our paramaradhya ista deva, Sri Krishna. The solid part on the nose should be shaped like a tulasi leaf because that part of the tilaka represents a tulasi leaf on the foot of Krishna. That solid part also represents “the mark of the soul.” The idea is that just as tulasi is always found on lotus feet of Krishna, so the devotee’s heart mind and life are always supposed to be found and fixed on Krishna’s lotus feet.
The Vaisnava practice of adorning the body with tilaka is glorified throughout the Puranas, itihasas, and Pancartrika literatures. What follows is a collection of random quotes from Puranas contained in our notebook concerning tilaka:
“Wearing tilaka purifies the physical and subtle mental body. Twelve points of tilaka applications are nerve sensitive areas, energy sensors on the body, which easily absorb the spiritual energy generated from chanting the names of Visnu, (om govindaya namah, etc.), and by mentally placing or installing the Supreme Lord on those body parts. Body turns into twelve temples of Visnu! It is the mark of a Vaisnava, devotee of Lord Visnu, and it indicates surrender to Krishna.
Padma P says without first wearing tilaka one will get no result from performing austerity, yajna, chanting mantras, studying sastras or murmuring gayatri, or any other spiritual activity. Good for preaching because anyone who sees tilaka on another’s face becomes freed of all sins. Wearing at the time of death, one goes to Vaikuntha. Wearing it pleases the Lord. He lives with us and the material body becomes a sancitied temple of Krishna. Tilaka sanctifies and dedicates the body to Krishna’s service. Brahma lives on left side line, Siva on right and visnu in open center area. In the absence of tilaka, one may use earth from holy place or dirt from base of any tulasi, which is taken to be vraja-raja, the dust of Vrndavana.
Specific glories of Gopi-chand, (tilaka only coming from a dry lake bed in Dvaraka)—
GC is so pure that a sinful person becomes pure just by touching it. If one is wearing GC when doing yajnas, homas and other Vedic rites, even if done without proper mantra chanting or ritual observance, one will still get permanent benefit of those acts.
History of Gopi Chandana: After Krishna left Vraja and moved to Dvaraka, the Vraja-gopis felt inconceivable pangs of separation. Overwhelmed, they once ran to Dvaraka where Uddhavaji arranged for Dvarakadish to secretly meet the Vraja–gopis outside the city precincts within a lush, dark and secluded forest. “Why have You neglected us for so long?” they asked. Krishna reassured them that they would always be together on the transcendental platform because of their intense, unalloyed pure devotion. He told them that He never forgot them, and is always thinking of them, so actually there is no question of separation from each other. With tears welling in His eyes and His chest heaving from a heavy heart, Krishna told them that they were always residing in the core of His heart. Somehow the Vraja-gopis understood and continued to love Krishna in separation. But to celebrate their eternally pure love, Krishna created a new lake for the Vraja-gopis to sport in, called Gopisarovar or Gopi-tala. Together Krishna and His sweet girlfriends bathed, splashed and enjoyed within those crystal clear waters. As a result, all their mascara, body oils, ointments, tilaka, sandalwood paste, dots of musk, kunkuma, and vermillion washed off their transcendental bodies and settled in the day at the bottom of the lake. This clay picked up the scent and golden color of Krishna’s most dearly beloveds and became transformed and spiritualized in the process. Over the centuries, Yogamaya arranged to dry up that lake, at least for most of the year outside the rainy season, so sadhakas could take chunks of that special transcendental tilaka to apply to their bodies in remembrance of Krishna’s love, gopi bhava, the mood of surrender and the eternal intimate conjugal service of Rasamayi Sri Krishna, reality the beautiful. In short, those are the wonderful glories of the gopi-chand tilaka, which we greatfully and lovingly apply to our lowly bodies. It is all mercy and divine compassion coming down from above.
“Jai Jai Shri Radhe”